Millions of subscribers of Tata Sky were in for a shock last week when the direct-to-home (DTH) platform removed 32 channels of Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) and three from the India Today Network because of differences over pricing. The reason this step was taken was that the three year deal between Tata Sky and Sony Picture Networks expired on July 31, since then both the companies have been negotiating over new prices, however, to the disappointment of everyone, they haven’t been able to conclude and move past the negotiation phase.

Three years ago, Tata Sky’s subscriber base was around 10 million, which has now gone up to 16 million and SPN is eyeing a higher share of revenue from the DTH player, which Tata Sky is not ready to part with. At least that is what the people at Tata Sky are claiming. But these claims have been refuted by SPN saying that the rates have remained unchanged and they aren’t looking to get a bigger payday in the renewal of the deal.

Tata Sky have now only kept a handful of popular channels on their network citing the popularity of the channels; but what’s worse is that they are having the existing customers give missed call on those specific numbers to avail those channels despite paying for them.

If what Tata Sky are claiming is even true then it also depends what kind of monies SPN are demanding. If it’s in correlation to the increased base of subscribers then they have every right to ask for that much amount more. Here there is a rise of 6 million or 60% rise in the subscribers in the last 3 years.

The real loss here is only going to be of Tata Sky. There are already enough competitors in the market whether they are DTH or CAS service providers; and now with Jio just around the corner to start their own cable services, it’s a risky move on their part. One thing that they should understand is that people want this service and don’t care who provides it, be it a company like Tata Sky or be it a local cable operator. They are paying and they want hassle free service and this is exactly the opposite of that. If they don’t want to lose their existing customers, hope they resolve this to the soonest.

By – Amul Vikas Mohan Trade Magazine